Irishman Edmund Burke's Critique Against The French Revolution

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In 1790, Irishman Edmund Burke published Reflections of the Revolution in France as a letter of stark critique against the French Revolution. A conservative, Burke’s philosophy of human nature highlighted society as prior to individuals and emphasized tradition. Within his conservative model, no one was born into a “state of nature,” for the mental experiment of a social contract was merely absurd. Instead, he viewed society as inherently organic and unlike a machine. Moreover, his major argument against the French Revolution was its foundation on abstract ideals, that although possibly desirable, could have problematic consequences of tyranny and disorder. Consequently, his work focuses on the values of tradition and gradual governmental change as an alternative to revolution. Now, while Burke makes a compelling case for tradition, I find his idea of…show more content…
He explicates that “the despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement, being in unceasing antagonism to that disposition to aim at something better than customary, which is called … the spirit of liberty, or that of progress, or improvement” (Mill 69). Here, Mill presents a contrary opinion to Burke by problematizing the overbearingness of what is customary, and positing that humans are progressive beings. Now, while Burke is not necessarily arguing against all forms of change, his framework criticizes the revolutionary manner of change in its abruptness and haste. However, in accordance with Mill, such revolutionary change is a part of the momentum of the spirit of liberty in its alteration of an oppressive system. Additionally, by destabilizing tradition, humanity appeals to its own originality and individuality by progressing to better forms of living. Thus, conformity to tradition is dangerous to the individuals within society because it stifles the growth by making us unaccustomed to conceiving
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